Difference Between Cloud Computing and Virtualization

by Tashina

We often confuse the concepts of virtualization and cloud computing, since both refer to making the right environment from an abstract view. However, there is a thin line of difference between the two terms.
In simpler terms, virtualization is a technology, while cloud computing is a methodology. However, on a broader scope, you can draw a comparison between cloud computing and virtualization in the following terms:



Its purpose is to create multiple environments from a single physical hardware system. A software called hypervisor connects directly to the hardware and splits the system into unique and secure environments known as virtual machines.


The vital purpose is to automate and pool virtual resources for the users on their demand through self-service portals. It is supported by automatic scaling and dynamic resource allocation.



It delivers packaged resources to specific users who use it for a particular purpose. The hypervisor is responsible for managing the resources appropriately. It is its job to separate the resources from hardware and then package and distribute them as required.


The main use of cloud computing is to deliver variable resources to a group of users, which can be used for various purposes. It is a set of principles and approaches which delivers computer networks and other resources to the user on their demand.



It’s a high capital expenditure but has low operating expenses. Thus, if you invest in it once, it can operate on low expenses in the future as it requires less maintenance.


There are two types of cloud: private cloud and public cloud. Both vary in cost. A private cloud has high capital expenditure and low operating expenses, just like virtualization. However, a public cloud has low capital expenditures and high operating expenses.

Other Minor Differences

Some other small key things differentiate between cloud computing and virtualization.


Virtualization is image-based, whereas cloud is template-based.


Virtualization has longer life as compared to cloud. Virtualization lasts years (long-term); on the other hand, the cloud is short-term and can only last from hours to months.


Virtualization is scale-up, whereas cloud is scale-out.


Virtualization is stateful, whereas cloud is stateless.


Virtualization has a single tenant; on the other hand, the cloud has multiple tenants.


Cloud delivers added benefits of automated infrastructure scaling, dynamic resource pools and self-service access, which make it noticeably different from traditional virtualization.
Virtualization, on the other hand, has its own benefits. It allows improved hardware utilization and server consolidation, thus reducing the need for space, cooling and power in a datacenter.
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